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Backcountry Splitboard 

Makej Projects 

Backcountry Splitboard 

Written By: Damien Scogin 



Base-refreshing brush (1) 


Base repair iron (1) 


Center punch (1) 

Dremel rotary tool (1) 

Drill (1) 

Filter mask (1) 

Gloves (1) 

Goggles (1) 

Hammer (1) 

for T-nut installation 

Hex wrench (1) 

Metal filed) 

Phillips screwdriver (1) 

Razor blade (1) 

Sanding block (1) 

Scotch-Brite scouring pad (1) 

Socket (1) 

for T-nut installation 

Stanley Surform shaver (1) 

$4 from j are, com 

Steel scraper/burnisher (1) 
$24 from Tognar 
SwiY Rase Cleaner (-\\ 

Snowboard (1) 

Voile Split Kit (1) 


6" longer than your snowboard. 

Epoxy kit (1) 

jm-cure ei 

oxy with palettes. 

T-nuts (1) 

Call Voile for these. 

Screws (1) 

available rd repair 


Screws (2) 

Masking tape (1) 

Metal Grip P-tex repair string (1) 


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Backcountry Splitboard 

ng excess epoxy and for 

Table saw (1) 

Toko board grips (1) 
aful from Toko 


Snowboarding is a sport of blessed simplicity. One plank. Two edges. Clean lines. But the 
critical element is the clean lines. From ski-resort brochures to Warren Miller movies, all we 
ever see are untracked vistas populated by solitary riders who might have simply dropped 
out of the heavens. 

So how can you get to that untracked snow stash? Most ski resorts are surrounded by miles 
of wilderness, offering the same chutes, bowls, and tree glades, with none of the crowds. 
This is what we lovingly refer to as "the backcountry." And to get there, you'll want a 
splitboard — basically a snowboard that splits in two in order to function as a pair of touring 
skis. No more humping it up the hill with your board on your back while skiers push past 
you, snickering. 

Factory-built splitboards are available, but they're expensive ($600-$1,200 without bindings). 
If you have an extra board, a prefab kit is available from venerable telemark and splitboard 
maker Voile. A number of specialized parts are available only from Voile, so it's easiest to 
just purchase the kit. Due to the tremendous abuse that snowboard equipment is subjected 
to, the connections and hardware must be very durable. Nothing spells trouble like damaged 
equipment deep in the backcountry. 

WARNING: The consequences and risks of bodily harm, as well as avalanche danger, 
only increase as you move away from the patrolled boundaries of ski resorts and 
rescue personnel. Know your limits, get basic avalanche training (AIARE Level 1), and 
carry avalanche rescue equipment. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

Step 1 — Make the jig and mount the board. 

• NOTE: If you really trust your skills with a circular saw, then go ahead and use one. 
However, cutting the board is easily the most critical step in this project, and there's 
no good way to correct mistakes. For that reason, I chose to use a table saw and 
build a quick-and-dirty jig to keep the cut straight. 

• This step is critical. Using a ruler along the base of the snowboard, measure and mark the 
center in at least 6 places. Using your center marks, take a long straightedge and draw a 
line the full length of the base sheet. 

• Flip the board over and run a strip of masking tape down the center of the top sheet 
(eyeball it), to reduce splintering. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

Step 2 



& m I 


• Cut the 1x10 to the full length of the 
board plus at least 8" of overhang 
on both ends. Remove a 
rectangular section at each end 
that's at least 11" long and 7 1/2" 
deep, to accommodate the nose 
and tail. 

• Clamp your 1x10 jig to the board, 
with its outside edge parallel to the 
centerline, and its inside edge 
roughly centered between the 
factory binding mounts. Mark the 
jig edge on the top sheet, and mark 
the locations of 2 factory mounts 
on the jig. Remove the jig and drill 
2 holes at your marks, using a 
1/4" bit. Be accurate, as you'll be 
using the outside of the jig against 
the saw guide. 

• Screw the jig in place using two 
M6x20mm screws. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

Step 3 — Cut the snowboard and finish the inside edges. 

• Mount the thinnest blade you can 
on your table saw, to minimize the 
amount of material removed; I used 
a 7-1/4" Skilsaw blade. 

• Place your snowboard, base-side 
down, on the saw table. Support it 
in place and adjust the blade height 
so it'll cut through as much of the 
board as possible, except the metal 

Step 4 

• Adjust the saw's guide to align the 
blade with your centerline. Repeat 
at the other end of the board 
("measure twice, cut once"). 

• Wear a filter mask, goggles, and 
gloves to make the cut. With 
moderate and constant pressure, 
place the jig against the table saw 
guide and push the board through. 
Move the board steadily through 
the cut and keep any 
readjustments to a minimum. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

Step 5 

• Cut the metal edges with a Dremel 
and 2" cutoff wheel. Any remaining 
board core must be cut through 
with a hacksaw. 

• If you're a stickler, you can mount 
steel edges into the seam of the 
cut for better edge performance in 
ski touring mode, but I chose not to 
— this is best left to the 

• Sand the edges until the seams are 
parallel and smooth, then clean the 
edges with a damp cloth and let 
dry. Mix a batch of epoxy and 
apply along the edge in a thin layer. 
Avoid a thick buildup, as it can 
make connecting the board halves 

• Let epoxy cure, then sand and 
repeat (3-5 coats). 

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Backcountry Splitboard 
Step 6 — Mount the pivoting board hooks. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

• To maintain alignment over the 
next few steps, precisely align the 
snowboard halves, and wrap 
packing tape around the width of 
the board in several places, and 
down the center seam. 

• With the base on a flat surface, 
locate and mark the 2 contact 
points at the nose and tail. From 
each point, move 1" toward the 
center (lengthwise) and mark the 
top sheet. 

• On the top sheet, position the 
alignment sticker for the pivoting 
board hooks (aka "Chinese hooks") 
at your marks and center it along 
the seam. Center-punch or drill 1/8" 
starter holes for accuracy, then 
drill 4 holes with the 3/16" bit. 
Clean excess top sheet material 
with a razor, and wear gloves to 
protect yourself from the 

• Flip the board over and countersink 
the holes about 3mm deep with a 
1/2" bit, to keep the screw heads 
flush with your base. Clean up 
excess base material with a razor. 

• Remove the sticker from the top 
sheet and mount the hooks on your 
screws. The bushings go on the 
open section of the hook. Tighten 
the locking nuts down with an 8mm 
wrench and hex tool — the hooks 
should swing, but not loosely. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

Step 7 — Mount the touring bracket. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

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• Place the touring brackets, 
climbing blocks, and all associated 
hardware in approximate positions 
on the top sheet to find an accurate 
position of the balance point of the 
board (the extra weight will affect 
this). Locate the balance point by 
placing the board on a single Toko 
bracket or some other fulcrum. 
Mark this point on the top sheet. 
Various sources recommend 
placing the pivot point 1/4" to 1" 
forward of the actual balance point. 
This will make the tails drop 
quicker, thus increasing efficiency 
in your stride and kick turns. 

• Align the paper template with your 
mark and tape it down. Center- 
punch or drill 1/8" starter holes, 3 
for each bracket, front hole first. 
Then drill them with a 1/4" bit and 
remove excess material with a 
razor. Flip the board over and use 
a 3/4" wood bit to remove the base 
material — at least 3mm deep. The 
T-nuts must be sunk into the wood 
core, and must sit below the 
surface of the base material. 
Remove excess with a razor. 

• Mix more epoxy and apply a 
healthy glop to each hole in your 
base. Place M6x12mm T-nuts (with 
teeth) into the holes and use a 
heavy-duty clamp to seat them. 
Repeat for each hole. Place the 
board on a hard surface, top sheet 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

down, and fully set the T-nuts into 
the core. This involves a hammer 
and a sacrificial 13mm socket to do 
properly. Oh, and a lot of noise. I 
also recommend a second set of 
hands to hold the boards in place. 

Step 8 

• NOTE: You may want to drill all 
your holes at the same time, to 
minimize the episodes of epoxy 
and loud hammering. If so, skip 
ahead and drill holes for the 
climbing block and bindings. If 
not, you must let the epoxy cure 
before doing any further drilling. 

• Slice off the top part of the 
template, leaving the climbing 
block section in place for later 
(unless you've drilled all the holes 
at once). Clean the top sheet with 
the base cleaner and mount the 
touring bracket using a drill with a 
large Phillips screwdriver bit. Flip 
the board over, remove excess 
epoxy from the connections, and 
wipe the base clean. Let the epoxy 
cure. Repeat for the other bracket. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

Step 9 — Mount the climbing block. 

• Following the template, drill the marked holes using a 7/32" bit (this is smaller than for the 
other hardware). Remove excess top sheet with a razor and flip the board over. 
Countersink with the 3/4" wood bit and remove excess material. 

• Set and epoxy the 10-32 T-nuts, as you did for the touring bracket. 

• The climbing blocks have 3 parts: the shim, the block, and the climbing bar. The shim 
should be facing the tail of the board; the climbing bar fits into the block and should flip 
down facing the nose. Clean the top sheet and screw the accompanying hardware into 
place with 10-32 x 1/2" hex screws. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

Step 10 — Mount the binding pucks and bindings. 

• Placing the alignment stickers is 
important, since the blocks 
provided with the kit don't allow 
adjustment once they're set. Based 
on your preferred stance width, find 
the center of each of the binding 
positions. Mark the center and note 
the angle of your bindings. 

• Remove any packing tape and 
place the stickers on your marked 
stance center. Use the appropriate 
stickers for your stance (goofy vs. 
regular). Carefully angle the 
stickers to approximate your 
binding angles, and avoid wrinkles. 

• NOTE: Minimum stance width is 
18". Make sure the stance angle 
of your rear binding doesn't 
come too close to the climbing 
block (maximum 25°), or it will 
interfere with getting the slider 
track off and on. Make sure 
there's enough room to unclip 
the pin at the front of the tracks 
before drilling. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

Step 11 

• Drill the holes for M6x12mm T-nuts (not the Pozidriv screws supplied with the kit). Make 
sure you use the appropriate size of wood bit. 

• NOTE: Here we depart from the kit instructions. Given the terrific forces placed on 
these binding mounts, and my general paranoia about gear failures in the field, I 
chose to mount T-nuts through the base just like the touring bracket rather than use 
the Pozidriv screws provided. But M612mm T-nuts are not widely available. I 
recommend purchasing them directly from Voile (they don't offer them online, so 
you have to phone). There are more widely available T-nuts (M4x6mm or 1/4" or 
1/2" standard), but these have a shorter collar or a smaller base. 

• When drilling, you'll probably run into the factory T-nuts for the bindings. If you're lucky, 
you can use one of these to mount your pucks. But if not, make sure to avoid drilling too 
close to them and hitting the nut. I simply avoided the hole closest to these and drilled only 
3 holes per puck (6 per binding). Using the 1/4" bit, drill through the board and clean any 
excess material. Remove the stickers. 

• Set and epoxy the T-nuts as you did previously. 

Step 12 

• The kit comes with 2 sets of pucks 
(called Nylon Track Location 
Blocks in the instructions): goofy, 
and regular. The only way you can 
tell them apart is the tiny "R" 
molded in the bottom of the regular 
pucks. Using a Phillips bit, screw 
the appropriate pucks into place. 
Slide the metal binding mount on 
them to ensure that they're parallel 
across the center seam. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

Step 13 

• Mounting the bindings is the easy 
part. The rubber gasket goes 
between the binding and the 
aluminum mount; if your binding 
has good dampeners in the base, 
you can leave this out. 

• Mount the locking T-nuts through 
the bottom of the binding mount 
(the open end is the front) and 
screw the binding on tight. The 
screws may need to be cut down to 
prevent interference with the 
pucks. Make sure the bindings' toe 
edges don't extend beyond the 
front of the mount, as this will 
affect the touring performance. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 
Step 14 


i'l^r 4 


? - TuJSB 



t Slide the pin through the hole in the front of the binding mount and girth-hitch the cable to 
the binding. The pin should be easily removable from the mount. For snowboard mode, 
slide the mount over the pucks. For best performance in touring mode, switch the board 
halves around so the straight edge faces the outside. 

Step 15 

• Remove the binding and binding mount and slide the pin through the holes in the touring 
bracket. Make sure the binding buckles face the outside of your "skis." 

• NOTE: You'll need to buy a set of skins for touring. For steep or icy terrain, there is 
also a set of crampons that mounts to the binding plate. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

Step 16 — Mount the tip clips. 

• Remove the packing tape at the 
board tips, and place the tip clip 
alignment stickers. Ignore the 
rounded dashed line, and place the 
stickers so the clips will be flush 
with the tips of the board (nose and 
tail) and centered on your seam. 
Center-punch the marks and drill 
holes with a 3/16" bit, at as close to 
a 90° angle as you can get. It 
helps to use a drill block. 

• Now, flip the board over and 
countersink the base about 2mm. 

• Install the rivets, with the head on 
the top sheet, and the bushing in 
the slotted side of the clip. Flip the 
board and, using a thin metal rod 
(the binding pin is the perfect size, 
but be careful not to bend it), lightly 
hammer the rivet to pre-flare it. 

• Place a metal block on your work 
surface and hammer the head of 
the rivet until the rivet is set into 
the countersink. If possible, have a 
partner help you to angle the board 
so you're striking the rivet at an 
appropriate angle. Test the 
connection: the clip should be tight, 
but able to rotate. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

Step 17 — Repair the base. 

• Remove the packing tape holding 
the board together and pull it apart. 
It's easier to work on one half at a 
time. You still have a Swiss- 
cheese base, so you'll have to do 
some significant repair work. The 
key to successful base repair is 
essentially patience and lots of 
shaving. Normal polyethylene P-tex 
repair string and candles do not 
bind to metal, so you'll have to use 
a graphite-infused P-tex repair 
material, like Metal Grip, to bind to 
your T-nuts. 

• Cut a 6"-12" piece of repair string 
and place it close to your hole. 
Using the base repair iron, heat up 
the P-tex and glop it into the hole, 
slowly mixing it in with the flat edge 
of the iron to remove any air 
bubbles. Build up P-tex to fully fill 
in the hole, and extend it a bit over 
the rim. Let it cool to the same 
temperature as the rest of your 
base (15-30 minutes). Repeat for 
the rest of the holes. 

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Backcountry Splitboard 
Step 18 

• Using the Surform, file down the P- 
tex blobs roughly level with the 
base, taking care to avoid grabbing 
any of the excess and yanking out 
your plugs (the planing heats them 
up and can weaken the bond). I 
used a razor to trim back any large 
bits outside my plugs. Try to plane 
in the same direction as the base 
of the board — lengthwise. 

Step 19 

• Once you've roughly leveled the 
plugs, use a metal 
scraper/burnisher to further smooth 
them. Ideally, the plug will feel 
seamless where it meets the base. 
Alternate with the scraper, a base 
brush, and a fine Scotch-Brite 
scouring pad to smooth the base 
as much as possible. Although 
time-consuming, this helps prevent 
the plugs from ripping out when you 
remove the skins, and it eliminates 
drag for better downhill 

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Backcountry Splitboard 

Step 20 — Tune and wax the board. 

• Numerous online tutorials offer tips 
and tricks on how to improve your 
board performance. The best ones 
I've come across are on . 

Step 21 

• For more about splitboards and the 
freaks who ride them, check out . 

This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 20 . page 129. 

st generated on 2012-12-25 05:21:03 AM. 

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